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A charming circuit in the heart of the Loire, this tour follows the wonderful Loire River, as well as the Indre, the Cher and the Vienne, taking in numerous Unesco World Heritage classified châteaux along the way: Amboise, Chenonceau, Villandry, Langeais, Ussé, Chinon, Saumur, Angers... An enchanting cycle tour that makes the most of a superb cycle network along tranquil waterways, all the while discovering the immense cultural and architectural heritage of the region. An opportunity to visit the area’s many wine cellars and vineyards, as well as the troglodyte caves of Turquant and Souzay-Champigny. To top it all off, the majority of the itinerary is on green lanes and dedicated bike routes.
Itinerary start: France Bike Trips services begin on day 1 at 9am in Tours with the baggage drop off (rendez-vous close to the railway station). On request we can book the previous night's accommodation for you in Tours.
A secure car park is available next to the train station. The "sud" section offers the cheapest tarifs. For more infos: www.resaplace.com. If you arrive by car, a train service is avalable in order to return to Tours from Angers at the end of your trip.
Beginning in the city of Tours, we follow the magnificent Loire River, taking the time to appreciate the many châteaux and charming country manor houses along the way. The tranquillity of this great river, the longest in France, quickly works its charm with its thickets and leafy hedgerows, its fields and pastures, its isolated hamlets and farms. The river is also an oasis for a large variety of maritime and continental birds. As we reach Montlouis, the small amount of elevation gained so far is enough to offer beautiful panoramic views of the Loire. We then arrive in Amboise, the first notable historical site of our tour. The town has a rich and colourful past with its Royal château and the Clos Lucé, former residence of Leonardo de Vinci. The charming cobblestoned streets and street side cafés offer plenty of opportunities to explore and relax. Night in Amboise.
Distance covered: approx. 25 km / Altitude gain: approx. 150 m
We gain a little altitude this morning in order to reach the forest of Amboise which we cross before taking the time to visit the fabulous Château de Chenonceau, built in 1513. After our visit we continue our journey by means of a little known route that offers an unforgettable view of the château from the banks of the Cher. We follow the river along its quiet banks bordered with weeping willows, vegetable gardens, charming country houses and "chalands" (small flat-bottomed barges) on riverside moorings. We reach our overnight stop, Azay-sur-Cher, nestled on the banks of the Cher River.
Distance covered: approx. 35 km / Altitude gain: approx. 150 m
The tranquil waters of the Cher lead us gently on to the city of Tours. We skirt round the south side of the city, following the banks of the river, before winding our way through fields and pastures to reach Villandry and its 16th century château, famous for its splendid geometrical gardens. We make the most of the beautiful late afternoon light which sets the château, gardens and water garden ablaze. Overnight stay near Villandry.
Distance covered: approx. 30 km / Altitude gain: approx. 150 m
We join the “Bec du Cher” this morning, meeting point of the Cher and Loire rivers. We find ourselves once again on the banks of the Loire, which seems surprisingly large after the previous day’s riding along the comparatively narrow Cher... The "chalands" drift peacefully on the slow current of the river, accompanied by a wealth of birdsong from the abundant variety of birds to be found along the river's banks. A short detour takes us to a small suspension bridge, enabling us to cross the Loire and join the village and château of Langeais. An optional visit of the Château de Langeais and a stroll through the narrow lanes of the village, dominated by the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church, before we continue our journey along the banks of the Loire. A welcome break in the small port of Bréhémont, with panoramic views from the terrace of its café, before we leave the Loire behind us and head to the Château d'Ussé, known as the "Sleeping Beauty". Charles Perrault was supposedly inspired by the image of the château when he wrote the fairy tale of the same name. An optional visit of the château for those who aren't frightened by fairy tales and legends :-). We head back to the Loire shortly before leaving it once again in order to reach our overnight lodgings in Chinon.
Distance covered: approx. 45 km / Altitude gain: approx. 200 m
This morning's itinerary sees us join the banks of the Vienne. We ride through the forests, vineyards and farmland of the Loire-Anjou-Touraine regional natural park. After a dozen or so kilometres, we join the Loire once again and follow it all the way to Turquant, famous for its troglodyte caves dug in to the chalk cliffs. Many of the former mines and cave dwellings have been transformed into craftsman’s workshops, while others serve as wine cellars. Turquant is at the heart of the largest troglodyte cave network in the world, and we take ample time to discover the site before continuing on our route! A few kilometres further on we reach the tuffeau chalk galleries of Souzay-Champigny, which we can even ride through on our bikes! A unique experience… A few more pedal strokes and we arrive in Saumur, “town of art and history”. The Château de Saumur is an impressive sight, built at the top of a hillside dominating the Loire, and visible from miles around… The town's narrow lanes and small squares are also full of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. We settle into our overnight lodgings in Saumur.
Distance covered: approx. 50 km / Altitude gain: approx. 300 m
Today's ride starts with an optional loop of around fifteen kilometres which leads us to the Cadre Noir national equestrian school. An opportunity to discover this prestigious training school and spend some time with the centre's horses. We then return to Saumur where we join the Loire once again, riding through the Loire-Anjou-Touraine regional natural park. The entire day's stage is spent on the banks of the wild and fast-flowing Loire, which grows larger and larger with each passing kilometre. Our route takes us past a succession of antique machinery and abandoned hamlets of the once prosperous, but recently closed Trélazé slate quarries. Night in a gite in Saint-Mathurin-sur-Loire.
Distance covered: approx. 30 km / Altitude gain: approx. 150 m (or 45 km / 300 m with the optional loop)
We ride along the banks of the Loire once again, before bidding it farewell at its junction with the Maine, the confluence of the two rivers offering us a picture postcard image. We follow the Maine upstream and into the heart of Angers where we discover the old town and its château, the "Maison d'Adam" (a 15th century half-timber house) and the spectacular cathedral. Separation at Angers SNCF railway station.
Distance covered: approx. 35 km / Altitude gain: approx. 100 m
Distances and altitude gain are an indication only and may vary.
Itinerary end: France Bike Trips services end in Angers with your baggage pick-up close to the SNCF railway station at 6pm. On request we can book an early baggage pick-up. We can also book the following night's accommodation for you in Angers (see the supplementary services). Return to Tours by train at the end of your bike trip possible (trains acccept bicycles). Please contact us for more information.
Average tour rating: